The Bookworm Beat 10/7/16 — the culture wars edition and open thread

Stupid leftists safe spacesThe press is winning the culture wars. Even as more information emerges about Hillary’s criminality, her illness, her sharia-friendly aides, and her appalling record as Secretary of State, she’s still pulling ahead. Trump hasn’t done anything awful in the last few weeks because neither he nor Hillary shone in the debate. One therefore has to ask, why Hillary’s surge?

I have what I think is the one and only answer: The Media. The media deliberately built Trump up during the primaries to destroy more traditional candidates and they are destroying him now. I have never, never seen anything the like of which I’ve seen now. The steady drumbeat of hate directed at Trump is unprecedented in American history, as is the decision to abandon any pretense of reporting honestly about Hillary.

The problem is that even those who distrust the media are going to be affected. It’s kind of like the situation in an old cartoon that shows a man and a woman at the breakfast table, each reading the paper. She says to him, “It says here, ‘Don’t believe everything you read.'” His answer? “Don’t believe it.” For the average person, it’s impossible to know what to read and what to believe. But they still read and, whether or not they believe, they subliminally absorb the “Hate Trump, Trump is Evil, Trump is Dangerous” rhetoric.

For that reason, I think the Prager U video on the media is too temperate, but it’s still interesting:

As for me, the more extreme the attacks against Donald, attacks about things utterly irrelevant to his qualifications or principles, the more I know that “whatever they’re against, I’m for.”

Oh, and one more thing, about those #NeverTrumpers in Blue states who’ve said that they might be singing a different tune if they were in a swing state: Once they’ve admitted that their ivory tower view is different from what they’d be doing were they in the heat of battle, it seems to me that they need to stop talking. After all, they’ve conceded that #NeverTrumpism is an intellectual luxury that is limited to those whose votes don’t matter. Others, they’ve conceded, can’t afford to be #NeverTrump. To make that same #NeverTrump argument to people whose votes do matter is morally wrong.

A casualty of the culture wars: Humor. One of the things that’s anathema to dictators is humor. That’s why jokes in the former Soviet Union were such a transgressive act. (That’s probably true in Putin’s Russia, too.) In America, we’ve been trained away from telling the old jokes people used to tell — the ones about husbands, wives, mothers-in-law, immigrants, etc.  We haven’t just stopped telling the manifestly offensive ones. We’ve stopped telling all of them. There’s always someone to get offended.

There’s one exception to the kybosh on jokes, one place in which offense is not only possible but intended: Conservatives and conservative Christians are fair game for what the Left classifies as humor. Of course, it’s not really humor at all. It is, instead, a form of targeted verbal assault with no laugh line.

I’ve been complaining about this for years because Mr. Bookworm had a passion for Jon Stewart, which he’s now transferred to John Oliver and Samantha Bee. Paul Crookston describes what’s made me so crazy about these supposedly “funny” shows:

Despite Jimmy Fallon’s many fans and sterling reputation in show business, he faced an avalanche of criticism for treating Donald Trump as a human being in a recent interview. Though some fellow comedians came to Fallon’s defense, the backlash against him was still overwhelming.

Critics accused Fallon of conducting “a softball interview” and called it “sickening,” as if his job was to grill Trump rather than entertain an audience. Apparently, they thought the bit where Fallon pulled out a clipboard and “interviewed” Trump for president was serious, and blamed the comedian for failing to properly vet him.

Liberal garment-rending over “offensive” humor is nothing new, but the progressive Left can’t even tolerate neutrality. Fallon sinned not in promoting Trump’s politics (he has done nothing of the sort), but in failing to excoriate them. Like Matt Lauer, he committed the crime of allowing Trump to speak for himself, and got the same response from liberal commentators for his trouble: Fight Trump or else.

Is this what humor is supposed to be? It’s a hard concept to define, but it is not difficult to differentiate from mockery. Theologian and social commentator Reinhold Niebuhr believed humor was rooted in seeing the “incongruities of our existence,” which are universal:

If men do not take themselves too seriously, if they have some sense of the precarious nature of human enterprise, they prove they are looking at the whole drama of human life, not merely from the circumscribed point of their own interests, but from some farther and higher vantage point.

For the significant portion of the Left that seeks to eliminate dissent, the goal is not to widen the vantage point but to narrow it. In a piece entitled, “TV can’t not be political: What Jimmy Fallon’s defenders get wrong about late-night,” Salon’s Silpa Kovvali stated that the humanizing of Trump made Fallon’s segment “bigoted and selfish and cruel.” It’s right there in the title: TV can’t not be political. That does not leave a lot of options, does it?

In the culture wars, dissent is patriotic only when it comes from the Left.  Nothing will get you faster approval in today’s American than attacking conservatives or conservative notions — for example, notions such as patriotism. Colin Kaepernick went from being a nothing of a quarterback to a lauded household name when he attacked the national anthem as a racist symbol and sparked a “take a knee” movement across American football fields and other sports venues.

Then, as was the case when Jimmy Fallon foolishly treated Donald Trump as a human being, Kaepernick, made reckless by the huzzahs coming his way, decided to treat Hillary Clinton like an ordinary candidate and criticize her. Oh, my. That was a bad idea, according to MSN Sports:

After galvanizing support from athletes and civil rights leaders across the country, Colin Kaepernick is in danger of losing it.

His comments Tuesday about the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were as needlessly divisive as the “pig cop’’ socks he wore last month. In case you missed, here’s part of what the San Francisco 49ers quarterback said about Clinton and Trump:

“Both are proven liars and it almost seems like they’re trying to debate who’s less racist.”

NAACP president Cornell William Brooks and Rev. Jesse Jackson are among the civil rights leaders to have praised Kaepernick for his protest of racial inequality and police brutality. But they’ll have a harder time supporting the San Francisco 49ers quarterback after the incendiary comments about the presidential candidates, especially those directed at Clinton, who has strong support within the African-American community.

The Left will not brook dissent.

The culture wars ensure only one view on campus. Even if you’re tenured, it takes an enormous amount of moral strength to stand up against those of your “liberal” faculty members who outnumber you by as many as 12 to 1, and to tell them that you’re planning on voting for a man they have convinced themselves is Satan incarnate. They don’t actually have data for his satanism, but he’s vulgar, and of course he’s racist (because he says Mexico unloads criminals on America) and he’s Islamophobic (because he said we should stay immigration from Islamic hot spots until we can vet “refugees” for terror ties or leanings). Meanwhile, they refuse to listen to substantive, fact-based arguments about Hillary’s lawlessness, her disastrous socialist policies, her terrible tenure at State, her health problems, and her savage attacks on women.

As if the substantive issues weren’t bad enough, the whole hoo-ha about trigger warnings is upping the ante on speech. If you say something that doesn’t pass muster with the SJW censors, you can become the victim of verbal abuse that goes far beyond micro-aggressions into outright macro-aggressions. Rajshree Agarwal tells a bit of what it’s like to be a dissenter in academia. Not everyone is cut out to be a Trumpian warrior, so too many people retreat into silence.

As for me, I’m actually going the other way although, no, I still haven’t confessed that I’ll vote for Trump. In conversations and on social media, I don’t challenge people to their face, in part because, while I’m assertive, I’m not aggressive, and in part because, unlike the Left, I don’t believe in winning an argument by telling people they’re idiots (even if they are). Nevertheless, I think few people today have many doubts about my political leanings.

I’m not alone in Marin. Conservatives who don’t live in Marin are pretty outspoken. Those who do, however, do what I do: They put up vaguely conservative material and then justify it on non-conservative grounds, so as not to lose all their friends. Today, one of my Facebook friends whom I’ve long suspected is a closeted conservative, put up this wonderful video:

Then, instead of doing the usual victory dance Leftists do (“All of you who disagree with me are stupid,” a form of discourse that has pretty much taken over my Facebook feed), she apologized for the political content and explained that she put it up to illustrate that we shouldn’t care what actors say.

Two people in the comments applauded her bravery while assuring everyone who was listening in that they wouldn’t vote for Trump. Me? I just applauded her bravery and left it at that.

Coloradans voting on legalizing euthanasia.  When I was a Leftist, I supported euthanasia. Whey should people suffer, I asked? As I moved to the right, I realized the terrible pitfalls of legal euthanasia:  people will eventually be forced to die, whether or not they want to.

When the euthanasia movement started in Europe, the Europeans smugly said that socialized medicine ensured that people would not be pushed to die, because free medical care meant that the family would have no incentive to end Mama’s life a few days, weeks, or years early. Of course, those smug Europeans got it bass ackward, as always. Families will go into debt to keep Mama alive. The state will not. It has no vested interested in sick people because those people just drain the treasury without contributing to society. Their useful days are over and the state does not love them.

In a month, people in Colorado are being asked to bring euthanasia to their state, and they’re promised that the proposed law is hedged about with all sorts of protections that will keep people from being bullied to death. (Actually, the state, when it finally has power, doesn’t bully. It just pulls the plug. But I digress.)  George Weigel looks at the spread of euthanasia laws and sees Colorado sliding swiftly down a deadly slippery slope:

A Colorado brown bear sees in a wounded deer not a fellow creature to be helped but dinner. If Proposition 106 passes, something analogous to that brutish, subhuman relationship will obtain between doctors and their patients in Colorado, as those who were once considered fellow human beings to whom care was due are now taken to be problems to be technologically “solved” — or, worse, burdens to be lifted (from others, or from the state) by the self-administration of a lethal drug. And if that is what liberality, tolerance, and compassion have come to in the Centennial State, then Colorado is little more than nature red in tooth and claw, beneath a veneer of Rocky Mountain High civilization.

The culture wars at the Smithsonian. I was at the Smithsonian in 2004 or 2005. I commented then, on an old blog post that no longer seems to exist, that the museum was horribly politically correct, something that transcended the whole Enola Gay kerfuffle of a few years before. Whenever it could, the museum pointed out that white America was bad. The temporary exhibits were all dedicated to showing America being horrible to one minority or another.

Only Europhiles could believe that America was and is uniquely bad. Oh, and when I said “Europhiles,” I naturally meant “stupid and ill-informed Europhiles.” And really don’t get me started on the horrible racism that permeates Latin America, Africa, Asia, and, especially, the Middle East.

The Smithsonian has only gotten worse. Now that the new African-American branch is opened, conservatives have noticed a startling omission from its panoply of distinguished African-Americans: Clarence Thomas. Kevin Williamson wrote a real roof-raiser savaging that omission:

The second and more likely explanation [for Thomas’s omission] is that the Smithsonian is corrupt.

This would not be surprising. The Left is committed to its Long March through the Institutions, with a special emphasis on cultural and educational institutions, the commanding heights of public discourse. The Left corrupts everything it touches, and it subordinates everything it touches to politics. That is true of everything from the public schools to labor unions to Catholic seminaries. If you are a high-school sophomore in Lubbock, Texas, that might mean receiving an account of American history which consists almost exclusively of the Great Depression, Jim Crow, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, as I did. If you are a family of modest means that has saved its pennies for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to our nation’s capital with the intent of exposing your children, however briefly, to the best that has been thought and written in the American context, that means a museum of African-American history in which a major figure in African-American history has been airbrushed away like a Soviet apparatchik fallen into disfavor.

If you were looking for a figure who personified the humiliations and triumphs of black Americans, you could hardly do better than Clarence Thomas, the son of a poor, Gullah-speaking family on the Georgia coast, a man who was not quite fluent in anything that would pass muster as English until his adulthood — who, nonetheless, found his way into college, into the Yale law school, and the Reagan administration, whose shortcomings and errors he admonished fearlessly. When he was elevated to the Supreme Court, the Democrats — who hate a black conservative more than they hate anything on this good green Earth — concocted every manner of dishonest attack to try to do to him what they had successfully done to Robert Bork not long before. But Clarence Thomas prevailed over what is by now a familiar attempt by the Democrats, the party of Bull Connor, to keep a black man in what they imagine to be his place.

A reminder of the culture wars fought within 20th century Islam. My blogging is a little slow because I’ve been transcribing my Mom’s oral history. This is her take on Palestine’s Muslim community between 1935 and 1940, scrambled syntax and all:

In the Negev, they [the Bedouins] were in all these black tents, the way, you know, goat tents, these square goat tents. And the women all wore these black dresses with these embroideries and then they had all the wealth of their husband…. The women — he could have four women, in those days that was all legal. They [the women] had hanging here [gesturing to the side of her face], they had something strung from the nose here and to the ear, and the wealthier the husband was, the more they had hanging here. I remember those days. Very few people do nowadays, ’cause that didn’t last very long anymore. Nobody was veiled. I’ve never, ever seen a veiled person. That is not absolutely a necessity for Islam, so what people nowadays tell you, and the chador and this and that, these are local, that’s Wahabbism and whatever it’s called and that…. You know those are special things…. In Palestine there were no veils. It didn’t exist. Never seen such a . . . never seen such a thing.

The culture wars within Islam in the 20th century sent large parts of the Islamic world right back to the 7th century. We need to fight our culture war at home, or we’re going to be in a culture that has no free speech, no religious freedom, state-mandated euthanasia of people deemed too burdensome, and anti-white racism that will be the perfect mirror image of the anti-black racism that was a stain on America.